Man Changes Plea to Guilty on Hate Crimes in Charlottesville Attack - NBC Bay Area
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Man Changes Plea to Guilty on Hate Crimes in Charlottesville Attack

James Alex Fields Jr. ran his car into a group of counterprotestors at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia in August 2017, killing Heather Heyer and injuring dozens more

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Victims React to Recommended Sentence for White Nationalist

    A young white nationalist is likely to spend the rest of his life behind bars. That's the sentence jurors recommended for the car attack that killed a young Charlottesville woman. Jurors added another 419 years behind bars to punish him for the many people he injured. Bureau Chief Julie Carey got reaction from those whose lives have been changed forever by the hate-fueled drive. (Published Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2018)

    A man convicted on state murder charges in a deadly car attack at a white nationalist rally in Virginia pleaded guilty Wednesday to federal hate crime charges in a case that stirred racial tensions across the country.

    Under a plea agreement, James Alex Fields Jr., of Maumee, Ohio, pleaded guilty to 29 of 30 federal charges stemming from the "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville on Aug. 12, 2017. He did not plead guilty to one count that carried a potential death penalty.

    Fields appeared stoic, with hands folded in front of him for much of the hearing. He did not speak, except to repeatedly respond "yes, sir," when U.S. District Judge Michael Urbanski asked him if he was pleading guilty knowingly and voluntarily.

    Urbanski scheduled sentencing for July 3. Fields faces a life sentence.

    Car Plows Into Crowd After Charlottesville 'Alt-Right' Rally

    [NATL-DC] Car Plows Into Crowd After Charlottesville 'Alt-Right' Rally

    One person died and more than a dozen were injured when a car slammed into a crowd after a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. News4's Derrick Ward reports from Charlottesville.

    (Published Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017)

    Fields, 21, was convicted in December of first-degree murder and other state charges for killing anti-racism activist Heather Heyer and injuring dozens of others. A jury found that Fields intentionally plowed his car into a crowd of people protesting against the white nationalists.

    The "Unite the Right" rally on Aug. 12, 2017, drew hundreds of white nationalists to Charlottesville to protest the planned removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. Hundreds more turned out to protest against the white nationalists.

    President Donald Trump sparked a national uproar when he blamed the violence at the rally on "both sides," a statement critics saw as a refusal to condemn racism.

    The car attack by Fields came after violent brawling between the two sides prompted police to disband the crowds.

    During his state trial, prosecutors said Fields — who described himself on social media as an admirer of Adolf Hitler — drove his car directly into a crowd of counterprotesters because he was angry after witnessing earlier clashes between the two groups.

    The jury rejected a claim by Fields' lawyers that he acted in self-defense because he feared for his life after witnessing the earlier violence.

    Residents Offer Prayers for Healing in Charlottesville

    [NATL-DC] Residents Offer Prayers for Healing in Charlottesville

    Church members and residents are grieving and hoping for unity the day after a driver plowed into a group of protesters, killing a woman and injuring many others. News4's Derrick Ward reports from Charlottesville, Virginia.

    (Published Sunday, Aug. 13, 2017)

    More than 30 people were hurt in the car attack. Some who received life-altering injuries described them in anguished detail during the state trial.

    Jurors in Fields' state trial recommended a life sentence plus 419 years, although a judge still has to decide on the punishment. Sentencing is scheduled for July 15.